In response to reading one of Eugene’s many calls to his zealous Oblates to look after their health, a lay associate wrote, 200 year later: “When I take care of myself then I will also be able to care for others. And like those earlier Oblates I need to be reminded of this over and over again.” Eugene’s zeal for the salvation of souls was contagious, but he had to remind the young Oblates constantly to be reasonable or else they would burn themselves out and become useless for ministry.
Your zeal is not compatible with reason:
Scarcely returned from Sabran, here you are off for Condoulet. Why so, my dear friend? This zeal is not compatible with reason. You are all young and need rest after a mission. Fifteen days would not have been excessive. I do not permit you to put less of an interval between that of Condoulet and that you plan to do at Fourquet.
I finish by begging you to spare your companions and to spare yourself.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 29 January 1828, EO VII n 292
You do not know how to be moderate:
God forbid that I consent that you omit taking some rest before you return to the field. That is a thing you must never ask. One may not always feel fatigue, but it is no less necessary to rest, especially when one is young as are our dear Fathers Martin and Sumien and as for you, although a little older, you have more need than the others because you do not know how to be moderate.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 19 February 1828, EO VII n 294
Never undertake to do more than you can:
In the first place and above everything: rest, rest, rest. Your first duty is to ensure it for your collaborators. So, whatever arrangements you make, as long as you are young, you will put fifteen days interval between one mission and another. Never undertake to do more than you can. If you have committed an impudence of this kind, revoke any promise that has been too lightly given.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 21 February 1828, EO VII n 295
In spite of all that you do, convince yourself that there will always remain much for you to do:
You will see from the preceding that I never change my mind on the question of rest. You feel the need more than when you took it in your head to leave so quickly for Condoulet. In spite of all that you do, convince yourself that there will always remain much for you to do; so it is useless to ruin yourselves, I cannot conceive that by doing yourselves in, you will succeed in doing all there is to be done.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 4 March 1828, EO VII n 296
No matter how much good we desire to do, we certainly need to be reminded of working within our limitations over and over again.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha